Characters: Ianto, Jack, OCs.
Word Count: 2334
Summary: There’s an alien delegation visiting Torchwood and Jack is not at all happy about their reasons for being there. Could he be jealous?
Written For: Challenge 296: Sideways at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Everyone working for Torchwood was used to getting knocked sideways by events. The very nature of the job, policing whatever came through the Rift from past, present, future, or other worlds, was by its very definition unpredictable. You never knew what you might be dealing with from one day to the next: lost travellers or an invasion force, alien trash, a deadly weapon, or something completely unidentifiable. Torchwood agents learned to expect the unexpected, think fast, and react even faster.
This though was something Jack had definitely not been expecting, although in retrospect he probably should have.
These aliens were not hostile, which was perhaps the only good thing about them. They’d been drawn here to Cardiff thanks to a casual comment made in passing by a certain Time Lord, who happened to be visiting their world for some unknown reason, and Jack was going to have some very choice words for the Doctor to chew over the next time he stopped by for a visit! If he couldn’t trust his oldest friend not to betray him, well, it was a sorry state of affairs.
He shot another sidelong look at the aliens seated politely around the table in the conference room. None of them were looking his way; their attention was fixed elsewhere, much to his annoyance.
They were extraordinarily attractive, even by the narrow standards of early twenty-first century humans. About six and a half feet tall, they had skin the colour of the finest honey and warm, golden brown eyes. Their long hair was a lustrous, glossy blue-black that somehow shimmered with turquoise highlights in the right light. They were lean yet muscular, as graceful as dancers, and dressed in loose, open robes that hung almost to their ankles over tight-fitting trousers and sleeveless tops, all in pleasingly well-coordinated pastel colours. Even the short boots on their slender feet were elegantly stylish, plum-coloured leather of some description. As with all members of their race they were hermaphrodites and seemed faintly amused by humanity’s quaint reliance on two distinct genders for the purpose of reproduction. `
None of this was what bothered Jack, however; it was the fact that they had travelled all this way for one reason only, namely to meet Ianto Jones, Torchwood Three’s General Support Officer, Coffee King extraordinaire, and Jack’s lover.
‘Mine!’ thought Jack, eyes shooting daggers at the eight alien visitors, all of whom continued to ignore him completely. Not that he wanted their attention as such, beautiful though they were, he just didn’t want them looking at Ianto that way, all intense avidity, hanging on his every word and gesture.
Jack took a sideways look at Ianto, trying to gauge his lover’s level of interest in the visitors without anyone noticing.
For his part, Ianto appeared as calm and unruffled as ever, unconcerned by the aliens’ scrutiny. A small smile graced his lips, and his expression was one of polite interest as he listened to what the aliens had to say.
“We wish to learn from you, that our people may benefit from your unparalleled mastery,” the main spokesperson stated in a pleasingly melodic voice.
“I am honoured,” Ianto replied, inclining his head respectfully before adding with typical modesty, “Although I can’t imagine what I could possibly teach people such as yourselves, who have made a generations-long study of the art. Your knowledge must surely exceed my own.”
“This is not so. We were informed, by one who has travelled extensively throughout both the universe and time itself, that nowhere was to be found such mastery of the art of the noble brews as that created by the inestimable Ianto Jones of Cardiff, Earth. Therefore, we selected the best and most skilled among our people to make this pilgrimage that we might learn all that you might be willing to teach us, before returning to our own world enriched beyond measure. It would be considered a great honour if you would accept us as your humble apprentices. We are willing to make whatever payment you require in return for being graced with your great knowledge and experience.”
Jack gritted his teeth; how could Ianto fail to be moved by all that flattery? They certainly seemed sincere in their desire to learn how to make the best coffee and tea in the universe, but he didn’t like the way they were looking at his Ianto. There was something covetous about it, covetous and lustful, like they wanted more of Ianto than just his knowledge of how to make a better brew. Jack didn’t trust them as far as he could throw them; they could have ulterior motives. Perhaps they wanted to abduct Ianto, take him back to their planet as their slave and force him to make coffee for them forever. Among other things.
“Or if you prefer,” the spokesperson continued, “we would be delighted to welcome you as an honoured guest to Velverren,” which was the name of their home world, “for as long as you wish to stay whilst we learn from you.”
That was too much! “No!” Jack snapped, slamming both hands flat on the table and rising to his feet, glaring at their guests. Every head turned in his direction, mild curiosity on the Velverrens’ faces. “Ianto isn’t going anywhere!”
Ianto stepped in quickly to calm the situation. “What Captain Harkness means is that my duties here are vital to the smooth running of our organisation; I do a great deal more than simply supplying beverages. Without me the whole place would fall apart.”
“Of course, we apologise most humbly; we had no wish to cause offence, we merely sought to offer our hospitality if you so chose.”
“No offence taken,” Ianto assured the Velverrens politely. “Captain Harkness is under quite a lot of stress at present. It makes him a little…” He paused briefly to consider the proper word. “Abrupt. Isn’t that right, Jack?” He turned a bland smile on his lover, but his blue eyes were hard and flinty, radiating his displeasure at the captain’s deplorable manners. Jack was barely able to keep from flinching. Still, Ianto had asked him a question, so he had no choice but to give a reply or risk angering him further.
“Yes, I’m afraid Ianto is needed here, he can’t be spared right now.” Or ever, he added silently.
The Velverrens bowed their heads. “We understand.”
“However, I’m sure we can come to some arrangement to accommodate you for a time while we share our respective knowledge on the subject of the perfect brew,” Ianto said graciously, ever the perfect host. “Don’t you agree, Jack?”
Jack gritted his teeth. What he wanted to say was, “No, never, there will be no cooperation or collaboration of any kind, and no way are they staying under my roof,” but Ianto performed some kind of amazingly clever sideways kick, catching Jack hard on the shin with the heel of his shiny shoe and Jack swallowed the words along with a yelp of pain, saying instead, “Whatever Ianto feels is appropriate. I have complete trust in him.” Which was, of course, the absolute truth. Ianto was above reproach; it was their alien visitors Jack didn’t trust. He would get his lover back for that kick though.
“You honour us, Master Ianto.” All eight visitors rose to their feet and bowed. “If there is any service we might perform to assist you and your organisation during our stay, you have only to ask it and it shall be done.”
“Over my dead body,” Jack muttered under his breath, earning himself another painful kick.
“Thank you, that is most generous.” Ianto stood and bowed in return, although Jack stubbornly remained seated.
“As was made clear before, you will of course be suitably remunerated for your time as well as for your invaluable knowledge.”
“That is acceptable. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a great deal of work to do so if I might show you to our guest accommodations? I should perhaps apologise in advance, I’m sure you’ll find them rather spare, but we seldom receive such noble visitors.”
“We are here as supplicants; we do not require luxury. I am sure they will more than suffice for the duration of our stay.”
‘Should throw the lot of them in the cells, only let them out under armed guard,’ Jack thought. Only problem was, Torchwood Three didn’t have enough manpower to spare for guards, even taking into account the recent additions to the team.
Ianto led the way from the conference room to the Hub’s new visitors’ suite, and Jack trailed behind, keeping a close eye on their uninvited guests, just in case they tried anything untoward. Someone other than the Velverrens had to watch Ianto’s back!
Once the visitors were comfortably settled, Ianto made his way up to the main Hub to get on with various routine tasks. Jack, after one last glare at the guest suite’s closed door, followed him. Neither man spoke until they reached Jack’s office, then Ianto spun on his heel and fixed Torchwood’s leader with a stern look.
“Jealousy does not become you, Jack,” he said firmly.
“What are you talking about? I’m not jealous. I don’t get jealous,” Jack insisted. “I’ve got no reason to be jealous!”
“Really? So what was that with the Velverren delegation, glaring at them, snapping at them when you bothered to speak to them at all, practically jumping down their throats when they suggested I might like to visit their home planet…”
“But you wouldn’t,” Jack interrupted.
“No, I wouldn’t leave you and the rest of the team in the lurch like that, and I would have said as much if you’d given me half a chance, I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself. I had thought your manners and diplomacy were improving, but it seems I was wrong; you weren’t just abrupt with our guests, you were downright rude!”
“They were looking at you!”
“Yes, and I was looking at them; it’s what many of the most civilised races do when they’re having a conversation.” Ianto didn’t roll his eyes although he might as well have; his exasperation was clear.
“Well I didn’t like it!” Jack folded his arms defensively over his chest and stared pointedly out the window overlooking the Hub, inwardly seething with resentment.
“I’m well aware of that. God knows what the Velverrens must have thought.”
“I don’t care! They can think whatever they want, but they’re not having you!”
“I see. So this is you not being jealous, is it?” Ianto was smirking; even without looking at his lover Jack could tell.
“It’s not jealousy! It’s…”
“Possessiveness?” The raised eyebrow was practically audible.
“Right. Because you’re absolutely certain that they want to abduct me for nefarious reasons.” Sarcasm dripped from Ianto’s every word, but Jack didn’t appear to notice.
“Some perfectly pleasant aliens show up, and they’re not interested in you, they’re here to see me, apparently because the Doctor happened to mention in passing that I’m particularly good at making both coffee and tea, and just like that your whole world gets knocked sideways. Honestly, I’m not sure whether you’re more annoyed that they’re interested in me, or that they’re NOT interested in YOU.”
Jack did the only thing he could under the circumstances; he pouted.
Ianto sighed and shook his head. “Oh Jack, what am I going to do with you?”
“I can think of a few things.”
“I bet you can. For the record, I have no interest whatsoever in going anywhere with our visitors. I’ll happily share what I know about making tea and coffee, it’s rare that I get the chance to discuss the finer points of hot beverages with people who actually share my interest in the subject, but my place is, and will always be, here.”
“With Torchwood.” It wasn’t a question.
“No, twpsyn, with you!”
Jack risked a quick look at his lover from the corner of his eye; to his surprise Ianto was smiling softly. “So you’re not mad at me?”
“Of course I’m mad at you, but if you promise to remember your manners from now on and show our guests some decent earth-style hospitality while they’re here, I think I can forgive your earlier appalling behaviour.”
Jack considered that. “Well, alright, but they’d better keep their hands to themselves; if they make one wrong move, I will not be held responsible for what I might do.”
“How about if I promise to have Rhys with me as a chaperone whenever I’m with the Ververrens? It’s about time I started showing him the ropes anyway, so there’ll be someone capable of making decent coffee if I’m too busy to; he might as well learn at the same time as our guests.”
Rhys was hardly an armed guard, but still, it would be better than leaving Ianto and eight Velverrens alone together. “That sounds like an excellent idea.”
“Good, I’ll go and inform him.”
“You do that. And Ianto?”
Ianto paused at the office door. “Yes, Jack?”
“Maybe I was just the teeniest, tiniest little bit jealous. I don’t want to share you with anyone.”
“That works out then, because I have no intention of being shared. Now, if you don’t mind, I have things to do, and so do you.” Ianto pointed at the stack of folders on Jack’s desk.
Jack eyed it with a notable lack of enthusiasm. “So I have. Is that my punishment?”
“No, that would be your paperwork. The punishment will come if you don’t get that lot done by tonight; you’re falling behind again, after you promised you wouldn’t.”
“Oh. I suppose I should probably get on with it then.”
“That would be greatly appreciated.” Ianto turned away, closing the door behind him, and went to find Rhys to let him know he was being promoted to chaperone and trainee beverage maker. The things he did to keep Jack happy! Good thing he was worth it.